The Journey… a case study of defining our strategy and building our talent pipeline

By Daksha Stancilas, Learning & Development Manager (Apprenticeships), Pret a Manger

1. The Tender

Establish your business needs and formulate a tender process based on those objectives.

Our apprenticeship offer began back in 2018, when we looked at the opportunities that the Levy presented, from diversifying our talent pipelines through to equipping our employees with skills for the future. Various training providers were invited to submit proposals as part of our tender process. Time was invested heavily in this to ensure we had the right partner. With a new training provider selected, the programme was designed specifically for our shops.

2. Attraction & Brand Awareness

Part of our strategy was to ensure we had an ‘attraction plan’ by working with various partners, tailormade outreach programmes were developed for schools. We invested our time in engaging young people in schools and colleges with our brand. We realised the young people we sought to attract may not be current Pret customers or even be aware of the brand, and knew that the right thing to do was to invest in schools to raise awareness of Pret, to develop an understanding of our industry and of the skills needed to succeed.  

We invested early, running four programmes in schools 2018-2019, that linked to our business priorities.

For example, the Perfectly Pret Sandwich making competition, including food safety training in schools; addressing Gatsby Benchmark 4 – careers in the curriculum, bringing education to life.  

Hosting taster events and delivering the ‘Fit For Work Wellbeing Programme’ to address values and behaviours. As well as having direct digital broadcasts into schools, our broadcasts involved our apprentices, managers and recruitment adviser. For any engagement with schools, it was important to involve our apprentices as they are relatable role models for young people. 

3. Recruitment and Selection

Apprenticeships support Pret’s underlying recruitment ethos: qualities or behaviours, not qualifications. We stand strong by our ethos that we can develop skills and apprenticeships help with that. We don’t expect our Level 2 apprentices to arrive with qualifications, so we just look for key qualities: passion, teamwork, clear communication and great execution. 

The recruitment process is therefore based on an initial telephone interview on our values and behaviours, followed by a discovery session held by our recruitment advisers and then a shop interview with the General Manager. Apprentices are supported throughout their induction and onboarding.  

Our initial launch focussed on the perks, benefits and progression.  We also produced a short video which aimed to be relatable to young people.

4. Development and Retention

We believe that the success of any programme like this is measured through retention and development. We designed various workshops, called Experience Days, to engage with our Level 2 apprentices, providing them with a deeper insight into Pret and how we operate as a global business. We hope that this inspires our team members to see their futures as managers at Pret.

We also offer developmental opportunities for our staff within our Support Centre. We work with various training providers to deliver bespoke programmes in line with the standards. For 2020 we are looking at launching a Level 5 programme with Corndel working in partnership with BRC.

 5. My top tips:

  • Find your apprentice champion, a senior executive? Engage with operators, those who can make it happen. Educate your teams in the value of investing in training and around thoughtful leadership.
  • Work in partnership with your training provider by agreeing ways of working, establishing what success looks like and pulling together a plan that aligns to this.
  • See young people as shapers – gain feedback to develop the programme to better suit their needs as well as business needs – this is an ongoing cycle.
  • Mental health and transition can add to pressure on apprentices and business, so invest in wrap around care – counselling, wellbeing programmes.
  • Share stories internally and recognise managers supporting apprentices on their journey - it’s a partnership!

Working together with our hand-picked provider partners, BRC Learning offers high quality leadership and management apprenticeships tailored specifically for the retail industry. Find out more here.